The International Consensus Conference on the treatment of primary breast cancer takes place every two years in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The panel in St. Gallen is composed of international experts from different countries. From a German perspective, it seems reasonable to interpret the voting results in the light of AGO-recommendations and S3-guidelines for everyday practice in Germany. Consequently, a team of eight breast cancer experts, of whom two are members of the international St. Gallen panel, commented on the voting results of the St. Gallen Consensus Conference (2013). The main topics at this year's St. Gallen conference were surgical issues of the breast and axilla, radio-therapeutic and systemic treatment options, and the clinical relevance of tumour biology. The clinical utility of multigene assays for supporting individual treatment decisions was also intensively discussed.
St. Gallen Consensus; Early breast cancer; Adjuvant therapy; Multigene signatures; Targeted therapy
The humanized monoclonal antibody pertuzumab prevents the dimerization of HER2 with other HER receptors, in particular the pairing of the most potent signaling heterodimer HER2/HER3, thus providing a potent strategy for dual HER2 inhibition. It binds to the extracellular domain of HER2 at a different epitope than trastuzumab. Pertuzumab and trastuzumab act in a complementary fashion and provide a more complete blockade of HER2-mediated signal transduction than either agent alone. Phase II studies demonstrated that pertuzumab was generally well tolerated as a single agent or in combination with trastuzumab and/or cytotoxic agents, and implied an improved clinical efficacy of the combination of pertuzumab and trastuzumab in early and advanced HER2-positive breast cancer. Results of the pivotal phase III study CLEOPATRA in patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer demonstrated that the addition of pertuzumab to first-line combination therapy with docetaxel and trastuzumab significantly prolonged progression-free and overall survival without increasing cardiac toxicity. Currently, the combination of both antibodies is being explored in the palliative setting as well as in the treatment of early HER2-positive breast cancer. Dual HER2 inhibition with the HER2 dimerization inhibitor pertuzumab and trastuzumab may change clinical practice in HER2-positive first-line metastatic breast cancer treatment.
HER2-positive; Dual inhibition; Breast cancer, metastatic; Pertuzumab; Trastuzumab
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed during pregnancy.
We report on a case of a 26-year-old woman who was diagnosed with right-sided breast cancer in her 15th week of gestation. We discussed possible treatment scenarios and the patient opted for neoadjuvant therapy with taxanes and anthracyclines during pregnancy, followed by delivery and then followed by surgery, antibody therapy, and radiotherapy. The patient received neoadjuvant chemotherapy with paclitaxel 80 mg/m2 weekly for 12 cycles, followed by 4 cycles of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (90/600 mg/m2) every 3 weeks. Complete clinical response was seen after preoperative chemotherapy. After delivery of a healthy child at 40 weeks of gestation, she received breast-conserving surgery and axillary dissection. Anti-HER2 antibody treatment with trastuzumab was started concomitantly with adjuvant radiotherapy. Endocrine treatment with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analog and tamoxifen for 5 years was planned to be started after radiotherapy.
Treatment of breast cancer during pregnancy requires an interdisciplinary approach and careful consideration of the patient's stage of disease, the gestational age, and the preferences of the patient and her family.
Pregnancy-associated breast cancer; Outcome of pregnancy; Neoadjuvant chemotherapy; Interdisciplinary care
Taxanes are regarded as the most effective single agents in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). For conventional taxanes, crucial toxicities and impairments in clinical efficacy are related to solvents necessary because of the agents’ hydrophobicity. The mandatory premedication with corticosteroids causes additional side effects. Nab-paclitaxel is a solvent-free colloidal suspension of paclitaxel and human serum albumin that exploits the physiological transport properties of albumin. It is registered as monotherapy with a recommended dose of 260 mg/m2 every 3 weeks for the treatment of patients with MBC, who have failed a first-line treatment of metastatic disease and for whom a standard anthracycline treatment is not indicated. Clinical evidence is available for the registered 3-weekly administration and for alternative weekly schedules in first and further lines of therapy of patients with MBC. During an advisory board meeting, a group of 8 German breast cancer experts reviewed the clinical data of nab-paclitaxel in MBC and discussed how nab-paclitaxel could be used in clinical practice on the basis of the current data.
First-line therapy; Metastatic breast cancer; Chemotherapy; Weekly; nab-Paclitaxel; Paclitaxel; Docetaxel
A group of German breast cancer experts (medical oncologists and gynaecologists) reviewed and commented on the results of the first international ‘Advanced Breast Cancer First Consensus Conference’ (ABC1) for the diagnosis and treatment of advanced breast cancer. The ABC1 Conference is an initiative of the European School of Oncology (ESO) Metastatic Breast Cancer Task Force in cooperation with the EBCC (European Breast Cancer Conference), ESMO (European Society of Medical Oncology) and the American JNCI (Journal of the National Cancer Institute). The main focus of the ABC1 Conference was metastatic breast cancer (stage IV). The ABC1 consensus is based on the vote of 33 breast cancer experts from different countries and has been specified as a guideline for therapeutic practice by the German expert group. It is the objective of the ABC1 consensus as well as of the German comments to provide an internationally standardized and evidence-based foundation for qualified decision-making in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
ABC1-consensus; Metastatic breast cancer, diagnosis and staging, treatment; Tumor markers; Metastases, biopsy; Chemotherapy; Endocrine therapy; Anti-HER2-targeted therapy; Palliative care
About 10-25% of breast cancer patients achieve a pathologically confirmed complete response after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Tissue samples of pretreatment core biopsies are a valuable resource for translational research aiming towards predictive biomarkers for selecting patients who are likely to benefit from neoadjuvant therapy. The German Breast Group (GBG) and the AGO-B Group (AGO = Working Group Gynecological Oncology) have extensive experience in conducting neoadjuvant clinical trials. Technologies as immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays and standardized reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) approaches on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples allow high-throughput investigation of protein and mRNA biomarkers. With these approaches, we could demonstrate that molecular tumor subtypes and immunological infiltrates are valuable and independent predictors of therapy response. New biomarkers such as poly(ADPribose) polymerase (PARP) might be useful for the prediction of response to conventional and new targeted therapies. This review summarizes current research projects focusing on biomarker discovery in the neoadjuvant setting.
Neoadjuvant; Chemotherapy; Breast cancer Lymphocytes; PARP
Background: Docetaxel and paclitaxel are among the most active substances for the treatment of breast cancer. As both drugs are used today in adjuvant regimens, efficacy data from pivotal trials in the metastatic setting in taxane-naive populations cannot reliably be used as references. Patients and Methods: The Taxane Re-Challenge Cohort Study identified participants from 6 prospective (neo-)adjuvant taxane-based studies with recurrent disease and collected data on their subsequent treatment. Out of 381 recurrent patients, 106 (27.8%) were re-challenged with a taxane-based treatment as first- or later-line therapy for recurrent disease. Results: Taxanes were used as first-line therapy in 74 patients and showed a response rate of 48.6% (including complete responses in 27.0%). The response rate was dependent on the disease-free interval (<1 year: 34.8%; 1-2 years: 42.9%; >2 years: 63.3%; p = 0.04) and visceral metastasis (present: 62.5%; not present 32.4%; p = 0.01). Patients without visceral metastasis and with a disease-free interval of >2 years achieved the longest overall survival. Hormone and HER2 receptor status were not predictive; however, triple-negative tumors responded in 50.0%. The overall response rate of later-line taxane-based treatment was 28.2%. Conclusion: Re-challenging taxanes appears to be effective and therefore represents a reasonable option in this population.
Docetaxel; Paclitaxel; Adjuvant; Recurrent breast cancer
The treatment of patients with breast cancer continues to evolve, with cytotoxic chemotherapy, endocrine therapy, and molecular targeted therapies representing the backbones of modern systemic breast cancer treatment. As we learn better to understand the biology of breast cancer cells, therapies to target specific pathways continue to be developed with the goal of expanding available effective therapy in specific populations. Several targeted drugs with different molecular pathways have achieved approval for metastatic breast cancer, but for early breast cancer trastuzumab is the only one that is currently approved in combination with chemotherapy for adjuvant or neoadjuvant treatment in women with HER2-positive breast cancer. Lapatinib and bevacizumab are both approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer and are now investigated in phase III clinical trials testing their effectiveness in the treatment of early breast cancer. In this publication, we review the current status in the treatment of early and locally advanced breast cancer with molecular targeted therapies that are currently approved or in advanced clinical development.
Breast cancer: early, locally advanced; Targeted therapy; HER2; Neoadjuvant therapy; Trastuzumab; Lapatinib; Bevacizumab; Neratinib; T-DM1; Pertuzumab
Women with advanced or metastatic ErbB2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer have limited therapeutic options once their disease has progressed on trastuzumab-based standard initial chemotherapy regimens. Therefore, there has been a clear need for alternative treatments in this advanced setting. The small molecule lapatinib is a dual receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor of both ErbBl and ErbB2. In the pivotal phase III trial, lapatinib combined with capecitabine has demonstrated superior efficacy over capecitabine alone in this group of patients, with a median time to tumor progression of 8.4 months in the combination therapy group versus 4.4 months in the monotherapy arm. This improvement was achieved without an increase in serious toxic effects or symptomatic cardiac events. In addition, with the advent of Lapatinib, the empirically adopted practice of continuing trastuzumab beyond progression has to be seen in a different light. This is especially true since an exploratory analysis has suggested that the earlier use of the combination lapatinib plus capecitabine is associated with a benefit in time to progression and overall survival.
Trastuzumab resistance; Dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor; Lapatinib; EGF100151 study; Treatment beyond progression
In recent years, new classes of molecules have been established as opportunities for the treatment of breast cancer. The approval of trastuzumab, the antibody against Her2/neu, in the late 1990s was followed by the approval of the antiangiogenic antibody bevacizumab in 2007. Progress in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis and tumour growth led to the development of new molecules, mostly kinase inhibitors. A few of these new molecues gained approval in several countries; clinical trials aiming at further approvals are ongoing. This short review covers the actual state-of-the-art and possible future developments in the targeted therapy of breast cancer.
Molecular mechanisms of pharmacological action; Antibodies; Receptor protein tyrosine kinases
The Organgruppe Mamma of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Gynäkologische Onkologie (AGO) performed a nationwide 3-phase analysis of the structure of care and standard of therapy given to patients with breast cancer from 2002 (4th quarter) to 2004 (4th quarter). The extent to which national and international treatment recommendations are implemented in routine clinical practice had so far not been evaluated in an interdisciplinary approach. No reliable data on the pattern of care of these patients have been published in Germany before.
Patients and Methods
The project included early breast cancer in the adjuvant and neoadjuvant setting as well as metastatic disease. We present the results of phase III of the AGO analysis, which are based on a survey conducted by the Organkommission Mamma in the 4th quarter of 2004.
Evaluation of the data reveals that treatment based on the guidelines is now being implemented very reliably in certain sectors. This is of particular relevance to the pattern of adjuvant treatment in early breast cancer. In contrast, in metastatic breast cancer (MBC), the complexity of the interdisciplinary treatment approach is complicating this kind of straightforward analysis.
The present analysis conducted by the AGO was the first attempt to analyse the treatment provided in patients presenting with MBC in a systematic fashion. The fundamental problem remains, irrespective of the stage of the tumour, that too few patients are treated in randomised clinical trials. The mission set by the AGO-Organkommission Mamma is the longitudinal observation of the therapy practices for breast cancer on the basis of the observations discussed here, which should ultimately benefit the optimisation of therapy quality in Germany.
Breast cancer treatment; Healthcare research; Adjuvant treatment; Breast cancer, metastatic; Guideline adherence